A Writer at War: A Soviet Journalist With the Red Army, 1941-1945
Based on the notebooks in which Vasily Grossman gathered the raw materials for his newspaper articles, this book depicts as never before the crushing condition on the Eastern Front during World War II and the lives and deaths of infantrymen, tank drivers, pilots, snipers, and civilians. Deemed unfit for service when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Grossman became a special correspondent for 'The Red Star,' the Red Army newspaper. A portly novelist in his mid-thirties with no military experience, he was given a uniform and hastily taught how to use a pistol. Remarkably, he spent three of the next four years at the front, observing with a writer's eye the most pitiless fighting ever recorded. Grossman witnessed almost all the major events of the Eastern Front: the appalling defeats and desperate retreats of 1941, the defense of Moscow, and the fighting in the Ukraine. In August 1942 he was posted to Stalingrad, where he remained during four brutal months of street fighting. Grossman was present at the battle of Kursk (the largest tank engagement in history), and, as the Red Army advanced, he reached Berdichev, where his worst fears for his mother and other relatives were confirmed. A Jew himself, he undertook the faithful recording of Holocaust atrocities as their extent dawned. His supremely powerful report 'The hell of Treblinka' was used in evidence at the Nuremberg tribunal. Anthony Beever, a historian, along with Luba Vinogradova, have woven Grossman's notebooks into a fluid, compelling narrative that gives us one of the best descriptions- at once unflinching and sensitive- of what Grossman called 'the ruthless truth of war.' -- from Publisher.